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March 6, 2011 / arthill

Rescuing overexposed, off-color images

We went to a dance program yesterday. My granddaughters, Lindsey and Scarlett were both in it.  It’s one of my least favorite shooting venues. We’re seated too far back in the auditorium so I had to sneak up to the front for their numbers. I shot direct flash because there was no ceiling to bounce off of.  The combination of bright fluorescent lights and flash fooled the camera so the color was off.  The well lit kids and the black curtain also fooled the camera so all of the pictures were overexposed. I was shooting HD video and taking a still picture every once in a while.  When you shoot this way you don’t see the results of your stills on the LCD screen so no chance to see that you’re overexposing and make adjustments.  Also I don’t like shooting without looking through the viewfinder – it just feels unnatural.

Fortunately because I shot in RAW + JPEG I was able to recover by opening the RAW file, reducing the exposure and then setting the white balance manually.

This is what the camera gave me


I opened up the RAW file and reduced the exposure by about 1/2 a stop.  Then I set the white balance manually by clicking the eye-dropper on the white sign.  Here is what I got

IMG_8028 3-5-2011

If you’re not shooting RAW you can still make the adjustments to the JPEG but you may not be able to recover the detail in the overexposed areas like the faces.  Here’s my attempt at improving the JPEG using Photoshop Elements.

IMG_8028 orig w adj (2)

One Comment

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  1. Maryann Goldman / Mar 7 2011 8:46 am

    Art, I like what you did to clean up this shot using the raw file. I sympathize with the shooting difficulties of some venues. I have to do major work to try to save my jpg shots of the boys awards ceremonies in their school gym. I’ve been shooting at a very fast shutter speed to stop blur since I can’t shoot a high ISO with my camera and since I’m too far away for my pop-up flash to help. Then I use Noiseware to clean up the grain and usually they look much better although of course not like I’d really like them to look. Sometimes I make other corrections in PSE or Picasa too.

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